Updated: Nov 17, 2019
Over the past couple of days, Jammu and Kashmir has been in turmoil. A curfew has been put into place, political leaders arrested and Internet access in the area shut down once more.
It's not the first time this is happening in the state, and likely won't be the last.
Mobile, landline, and broadband services have been shut down in Kashmir for over a day now, with clarity on when they will be restarted. But this isn't even a rare occurrence for our northernmost state. In fact, it sees the most incidents of Internet clampdowns in the country every year.
This shut down is the 51st imposed in Kashmir this year, according to the Software Freedom Law Centre, and we're only halfway through 2019. The last one was just over a week ago in the Shopian district of J&K, in the wake of a massive search operation and subsequent gunfight with two militants.
In total, J&K has seen 176 Internet shutdowns since 2012. That's about 51 percent of the shutdowns the entire country has seen in the same time span. The next states with the closest numbers are Rajasthan with 61 shutdowns, and Uttar Pradesh with 16. And they saw their first Internet blackouts only in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Throughout all of 2018, Jammu and Kashmir saw 65 Internet shutdowns, and 32 the year before that. There were 10 shutdowns in 2016, and 5 each in 2015, 2014, and 2013, and just 3 in 2012.
As you can see, the government is resorting to communication blackouts more often each year. In fact, the number at least doubled year on year since 2015. And given that we're just past the halfway mark of 2019, we can probably expect around a 100 or more total shutdowns.
It's debatable whether these blackouts are actually helpful to maintain law and order, or inadvertently serve to incite more fear and unrest among the locals.
While it's a clear case for internet censorship, but then again maybe it's all the government can do in the moment to contain violence.